September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document
Story:I was driving to work in Orange County, CA. I was on the freeway and heard the news on the radio. I thought it was an unfortunate accident, an airplane hitting the tower. Then we heard about a possible terrorist attack - then the second tower was hit. My thoughts flew everywhere - the kids shouldn't go to school - the wife shouldn't go to work - pull back and protect. They were still sleeping at home. I left a message on the home answering machine telling my wife to turn the news on and gauge whether the she should go to work or stay home with the kids. I called my coworkers and advised those that would be driving along airport flight lines or long freeway commutes to stay home and telecommute. It wasn't until I got to work that I realized I worked in a tower within a mile of the John Wayne Airport & could be a potential target! I don't think I have ever scanned the sky harder. We were all working to locate our employees, many of whom were on the road and would be trapped due to canceled flights. Our core executive team was on the ground in NYC, but by the grace of God had elected not to have breakfast at the WTC that morning - it was on their schedules!!!
By the time my family got up, we had more info and all planes had been grounded. They carried on with their schedules. It was probably better for the kids to be with their peers and experience the loss and pain with others of there age.
When I picked the kids up from school, they asked if I had heard what had happened. I told them that everybody in the world knew what was going on. They didn't talk much about it. It was something bad, and it was not happening here - on with life. I was angry at this. I wanted the kids to see what a terrible thing had happended. That lives had been lost. I wanted them never to forget this day - these events. I also wanted to switch the TV off and shield them from this. They had no business seeing bodies falling from the Towers. Dinner had no taste and I couldn't see through my tears. It was a simply a horrible, terrible, soul wrenching day.
That night I could not sleep. I just watched the news over and over again. I watched for news that we had retaliated - that we had found the group / country responsible and had struck hard! I kept waiting for that Special Report. I wanted to hear it, to see it, I wanted this very badly.
In the days that followed, my coworkers and I got back into our routines. But we did spend every lunch time at the red cross until all of us gave blood. We connected our business video-conference unit to the "Video Relief" project. We donated our airmiles, loyalty club points, money - anything to be a part of the relief. Every opportunity to be a part of something was taken. It still feels like we could not do enough! Survivor's guilt? Now that I look back on it - No, we were simply being true Americans.
Life Changed:I have to double check my luggage when traveling - that innocuous screwdriver for PC repairs is suddnly a weapon for terrorists. We need to alot more time when going to the airport. I am used to seeing the national guard in the aiports. Camoflauge on the escalator is now the norm - but at least they are wearing the American flag on their shoulders.
In the weeks after the 11th, it felt like a big machine was moving - that we as Americans could accomplish anything. During those weeks, we could have balanced the budget, cleaned up the environment, saved our educational systems - anything was possible after the impossible had happened. We were one - and everyone's pain and problems were ours that we could solve together.
I miss the feeling of unification in our country. That has abided, but you can feel just under the surface.
I kiss my wife goodbye and tell her I love her - every morning.
Should be remembered:The blessings that God has already given this country. The men and women that make America what it is. The re-unification of our Country.
Flag:I have always flown our flag on the prescribed holidays. I am an Eagle Scout and never more proud of the upbringing and skills the Scouting program instilled in me.
Our flag has not come down since the 11th. My wife did not even argue with me when I installed a light for night time. We are the only ones on our block to still fly the flag. It will never come down again.